Anique Hommels appointed Professor of Sociohistorical Technology Studies

As of 1 April 2023, Anique Hommels will be appointed as Professor of Sociohistorical Technology Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She will hold a Special Chair, offered by the Foundation of the History of Technology (Stichting Historie der Techniek, SHT). SHT is a non-profit organization that studies societal transitions in a long-term perspective. The Special Chair focuses on Urban Sustainable Sociotechnical Transformations and is embedded in the Society Studies Department and the MUSTS research group.

The chair focuses on the historical infrastructural and technological legacies in cities, the myriad of ways in which urban structures become entangled over time, and how degrees of urban obduracy vary historically. The shaping of new technologies has been the key focus of the research agenda of historians and sociologists of technology for decades (focusing on the question: how is technology made).

Yet this chair focuses on the persistence of old technologies and the new uses and reconfigurations of existing technology, rather than the shaping of new ones. If cities want to transition towards more sustainable living environments, they need to change, reconfigure, invent new uses for, or ‘unbuild’ existing infrastructures that were shaped in a past when different conditions, values, norms and imaginaries prevailed. This chair will build on studies rooted in the past, in combination with studies of the present, to inform our understanding of what might come in the future.